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Follow those who trailblazed the way of breaking through in life. And that's why Covey says: "begin with the end in mind". Reverse engineer your life from the very end all the way to the now. Those who don't know what their destination is will never arrive. They will take it day by day until the life is over. By then it will be too late. Remember what Covery said: "It's incredibly easy to get caught up in an activity trap, in the busyness of life, to work harder and harder at climbing the ladder of success only to discover that's it's leaning against the wrong wall".

In order to achieve the above goals we must put first things first. That's what the 3-d habit is all about. We must master the skill of prioritizing ruthlessly on a daily basis based on what's most important, not what's most urgent. To help with that Stephen comes up with the time management matrix dividing all tasks into the 4 main quadrants as illustrated below. Here is what you could do given that the 2-d quadrant is critical but the 1-st one is inevitable in most businesses, organisations, and families.

The great news is that this matrix can be used for both projects and individual tasks. Take the time to filter all of them now and introduce this invaluable tool to your arsenal. The 4-th habit is designed to help us operate with the abundance mindset. Most people have the scarcity mentality believing that there is not enough resources out there for everyone: money, time, deals, opportunities, etc.

Covey insists such mentality is dangerous. Develop the abundance mentality, become a WIN - WIN leader to help more people while achieving your own ambitious goals. Before we can suggest solutions, offer advice, or otherwise express our views and opinions to other people we need to master the skill of listening actively. Because no one cares about what you have to say until you genuinely demonstrate you care about what they have to say first.

And that's the whole idea behind the fifth habit. Imagine visiting a doctor. He shakes your hand firmly but doesn't offer to take a sit. Without asking a single question, the professional quickly scribbles a prescription and shouts loudly "Next! You are escorted from the room promptly. The whole "experience" takes less than 30 seconds. Would you ever visit this doctor again?

The reality is that's how most people communicate. They are either extremely impatient and interrupt others immediately or they can't wait to start talking. They don't care what others have to say. Unfortunately having a huge mouth and tiny ears is a common problem in the modern world of distractions and constant gratification.

But when we put the effort in developing the habit of listening actively and empathizing we reap huge benefits.

When people are heard they open up immediately and they become grateful and loyal very fast. When you become a great listener you become a great influencer. David Schwartz said it well in his book "The Magic Of Thinking Big": you don't get elevated from the top - it's the other way around. Those people who you help by taking the time to listen to and to understand propel you to extreme highs: be it a career, business, or personal life.

The first 5 habits combined prepare us for the sixth one, which is the habit of synergy - the Aristotle's theory that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Covey's idea is that when we work together collaboratively, we achieve much more than we could individually. The challenge is to develop the habit of creatively combining multiple and diverse inputs into something bigger even when we disagree with some of them. When we start valuing other people's ideas and opinions and are willing to look at problems from different perspectives unexpected things happen.

The outcome often exceeds everyone's expectations. Be curious, creative, and open minded. Just let it go and see what happens. You will soon discover that in many situations working together is way more effective than individually irrespective of individual weaknesses. To get to the peak of high performance and balanced living one must allocate time for renewing yourself physically, spiritually, mentally, and socially.

You are the most important asset you have. Protect it with passion. Exercising, eating healthy food, and getting enough sleep is the first step towards gaining total independence. Do everything you can to recharge your body at the physical level. To recharge spiritually, Covey suggests finding inner peace and calmness: meditating, spending time in nature, and finding a hobby. In other words doing anything you can to calm your mind down and get distracted from the busy world as often as possible.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Wikipedia

Another way to recharge is to refill your mental energy tank by disconnecting from the world of noisy technology and learning skills through reading. Major positive changes in life can only be built one small improvement at a time. As proven by multiple research studies reading only 10 minutes a day on a daily basis will make you an expert in any field in just 5 years. To sharpen the saw socially means to build and develop meaningful relationships.

Covey suggests silently helping other people without expectations in return.

When this happens the rewards come back automatically. Think about how you can improve your family, your team, your friends. What can you do to help them and make them better and happier? It simply makes no difference how good the rhetoric is or even how good the intentions are; if there is little or no trust, there is no foundation for permanent success. Only basic goodness gives life to technique.

To focus on technique is like cramming your way through school.


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Did you ever consider how ridiculous it would be to try to cram on a farm—to forget to plant in the spring, play all summer and then cram in the fall to bring in the harvest? The farm is a natural system. The price must be paid and the process followed. You always reap what you sow; there is no shortcut. This principle is also true, ultimately, in human behavior, in human relationships.

They, too, are natural systems based on the law of the harvest. You can pick up quick, easy techniques that may work in short-term situations. But secondary traits alone have no permanent worth in long-term relationships. Many people with secondary greatness—that is, social recognition for their talents— lack primary greatness or goodness in their character. It is character that communicates most eloquently.

But the effects are still secondary. In the last analysis, what we are communicates far more eloquently than anything we say or do. We all know it. There are people we trust absolutely because we know their character. This is simply the constant radiation of what man really is, not what he pretends to be. These habits are basic; they are primary. They represent the internalization of correct principles upon which enduring happiness and success are based.

The word paradigm comes from the Greek. It was originally a scientific term, and is more commonly used today to mean a model, theory, perception, assumption, or frame of reference. For our purposes, a simple way to understand paradigms is to see them as maps.

It is a theory, an explanation, or model of something else. Suppose you wanted to arrive at a specific location in central Chicago. A street map of the city would be a great help to you in reaching your destination. But suppose you were given the wrong map. Can you imagine the frustration, the ineffectiveness of trying to reach your destination? You might work on your behavior —you could try harder, be more diligent, double your speed.

But your efforts would only succeed in getting you to the wrong place faster. You might work on your atdtude —you could think more positively. The fundamental problem has nothing to do with your behavior or your attitude. It has everything to do with having a wrong map.

If you have the right map of Chicago, then diligence becomes important, and when you encounter frustrating obstacles along the way, then attitude can make a real difference. But the first and most important requirement is the accuracy of the map. Each of us has many, many maps in our head, which can be divided into two main categories: maps of the way things are, or realities, and maps of the way things should be, or values.

We interpret everything we experience through these mental maps. We simply assume that the way we see things is the way they really are or the way they should be. And our attitudes and behaviors grow out of those assumptions. The way we see things is the source of the way we think and the way we act. Before going any further, I invite you to have an intellectual and emotional experience. Take a few seconds and just look at the picture on the opposite page. Now look at the picture on page 34 and carefully describe what you see.

Do you see a woman? How old would you say she is? What does she look like? What is she wearing? In what kind of roles do you see her? You probably would describe the woman in the second picture to be about 25 years old—very lovely, rather fashionable with a petite nose and a demure presence. If you were a single man you might like to take her out. If you were in retailing, you might hire her as a fashion model. Look at the picture again. Can you see the old woman? Can you see her big hook nose? Her shawl?

If you and I were talking face to face, we could discuss the picture. You could describe what you see to me, and I could talk to you about what I see. We could continue to communicate until you clearly showed me what you see in the picture and I clearly showed you what I see. Can you see the old woman now? I first encountered this exercise many years ago at the Harvard Business School. The instructor was using it to demonstrate clearly and eloquently that two people can see the same thing, disagree, and yet both be right. He brought into the room a stack of large cards, half of which had the image of the young woman you saw on page He passed them out to the class, the picture of the young woman to one side of the room and the picture of the old woman to the other.

He asked us to look at the cards, concentrate on them for about ten seconds and then pass them back in. He then projected upon the screen the picture you saw on page 34 combining both images and asked the class to describe what they saw. The professor then asked one student to explain what he saw to a student on the opposite side of the room. As they talked back and forth, communication problems flared up. You have to be joking. Are you blind? This lady is young, good looking. All of this occurred in spite of one exceedingly important advantage the students had—most of them knew early in the demonstration that another point of view did, in fact, exist—something many of us would never admit.

Nevertheless, at first, only a few students really tried to see this picture from another frame of reference. After a period of futile communication, one student went up to the screen and pointed to a line on the drawing. Through continued calm, respectful, and specific communication, each of us in the room was finally able to see the other point of view.

But when we looked away and then back, most of us would immediately see the image we had been conditioned to see in the ten-second period of time. I frequently use this perception demonstration in working with people and organizations because it yields so many deep insights into both personal and interpersonal effectiveness. It shows, first of all, how powerfully conditioning affects our perceptions, our paradigms. If ten seconds can have that kind of impact on the way we see things, what about the conditioning of a lifetime? The influences in our lives— family, school, church, work environment, friends, associates, and current social paradigms such as the Personality Ethic—all have made their silent unconscious impact on us and help shape our frame of reference, our paradigms, our maps.

It also shows that these paradigms are the source of our attitudes and behaviors. We cannot act with integrity outside of them. We simply cannot maintain wholeness if we talk and walk differently than we see. If you were among the 90 percent who typically see the young woman in the composite picture when conditioned to do so, you undoubtedly found it difficult to think in terms of having to help her cross the street. Both your attitude about her and your behavior toward her had to be congruent with the way you saw her. This brings into focus one of the basic flaws of the Personality Ethic.

To try to change outward attitudes and behaviors does very little good in the long run if we fail to examine the basic paradigms from which those attitudes and behaviors flow. This perception demonstration also shows how powerfully our paradigms affect the way we interact with other people.

As clearly and objectively as we think we see things, we begin to realize that others see them differently from their own apparently equally clear and objective point of view. But this is not the case. We see the world, not as it is, but as we are —or, as we are conditioned to see it.

When we open our mouths to describe what we see, we in effect describe ourselves, our perceptions, our paradigms. When other people disagree with us, we immediately think something is wrong with them. But, as the demonstration shows, sincere, clearheaded people see things differently, each looking through the unique lens of experience. This does not mean that there are no facts.

In the demonstration, two individuals who initially have been influenced by different conditioning pictures look at the third picture together. They are now both looking at the same identical facts—black lines and white spaces—and they would both acknowledge these as facts. The more aware we are of our basic paradigms, maps, or assumptions, and the extent to which we have been influenced by our experience, the more we can take responsibility for those paradigms, examine them, test them against reality, listen to others and be open to their perceptions, thereby getting a larger picture and a far more objective view.

The term paradigm shift was introduced by Thomas Kuhn in his highly influential landmark book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Kuhn shows how almost every significant breakthrough in the field of scientific endeavor is first a break with tradition, with old ways of thinking, with old paradigms.

For Ptolemy, the great Egyptian astronomer, the earth was the center of the universe. But Copernicus created a paradigm shift, and a great deal of resistance and persecution as well, by placing the sun at the center. Suddenly, everything took on a different interpretation. The Newtonian model of physics was a clockwork paradigm and is still the basis of modern engineering. But it was partial, incomplete. The scientific world was revolutionized by the Einsteinian paradigm, the relativity paradigm, which had much higher predictive and explanatory value. Until the germ theory was developed, a high percentage of women and children died during childbirth, and no one could understand why.

In military skirmishes, more men were dying from small wounds and diseases than from the major traumas on the front lines. But as soon as the germ theory was developed, a whole new paradigm, a better, improved way of understanding what was happening, made dramatic, significant medical improvement possible. The United States today is the fruit of a paradigm shift. The traditional concept of government for centuries had been a monarchy, the divine right of kings.

Then a different paradigm was developed—government of the people, by the people, and for the people. And a constitutional democracy was born, unleashing tremendous human energy and ingenuity, and creating a standard of living, of freedom and liberty, of influence and hope unequaled in the history of the world. Not all paradigm shifts are in positive directions. As we have observed, the shift from the Character Ethic to the Personality Ethic has drawn us away from the very roots that nourish true success and happiness. But whether they shift us in positive or negative directions, whether they are instantaneous or developmental, paradigm shifts move us from one way of seeing the world to another.

And those shifts create powerful change. Our paradigms, correct or incorrect, are the sources of our attitudes and behaviors, and ultimately our relationships with others. I remember a mini-paradigm shift I experienced one Sunday morning on a subway in New York. People were sitting quietly—some reading newspapers, some lost in thought, some resting with their eyes closed. It was a calm, peaceful scene. Then suddenly, a man and his children entered the subway car.

The children were so loud and rambunctious that instantly the whole climate changed. The man sat down next to me and closed his eyes, apparently oblivious to the situation. It was very disturbing. And yet, the man sitting next to me did nothing. It was difficult not to feel irritated. I could not believe that he could be so insensitive as to let his children run wild like that and do nothing about it, taking no responsibility at all. It was easy to see that everyone else on the subway felt irritated, too. I guess I should do something about it. We just came from the hospital where their mother died about an hour ago.

My paradigm shifted. Suddenly I saw things differently, and because I saw differently, I thought differently, I felt differently, I behaved differently. My irritation vanished. Feelings of sympathy and compassion flowed freely. Can you tell me about it? What can I do to help? Many people experience a similar fundamental shift in thinking when they face a life- threatening crisis and suddenly see their priorities in a different light, or when they suddenly step into a new role, such as that of husband or wife, parent or grandparent, manager or leader.

We could spend weeks, months, even years laboring with the Personality Ethic trying to change our attitudes and behaviors and not even begin to approach the phenomenon of change that occurs spontaneously when we see things differently. It becomes obvious that if we want to make relatively minor changes in our lives, we can perhaps appropriately focus on our attitudes and behaviors. But if we want to make significant, quantum change, we need to work on our basic paradigms. Seeing and Being Of course, not all paradigm shifts are instantaneous.

Unlike my instant insight on the subway, the paradigm-shifting experience Sandra and I had with our son was a slow, difficult, and deliberate process. The approach we had first taken with him was the outgrowth of years of conditioning and experience in the Personality Ethic. It was the result of deeper paradigms we held about our own success as parents as well as the measure of success of our children.

And it was not until we changed those basic paradigms, until we saw things differently, that we were able to create quantum change in ourselves and in the situation. In order to see our son differently, Sandra and I had to be differently. Our new paradigm was created as we invested in the growth and development of our own character. Paradigms are inseparable from character. Being is seeing in the human dimension. And what we see is highly interrelated to what we are. Even in my apparently instantaneous paradigm-shifting experience that morning on the subway, my change of vision was a result of—and limited by—my basic character.

On the other hand, I am equally certain there are people who would have been far more sensitive in the first place, who may have recognized that a deeper problem existed and reached out to understand and help before I did. Paradigms are powerful because they create the lens through which we see the world. The power of a paradigm shift is the essential power of quantum change, whether that shift is an instantaneous or a slow and deliberate process. An idea of the reality—and the impact—of these principles can be captured in another paradigm-shifting experience as told by Frank Koch in Proceedings, the magazine of the Naval Institute.

Two battleships assigned to the training squadron had been at sea on maneuvers in heavy weather for several days. I was serving on the lead battleship and was on watch on the bridge as night fell. The visibility was poor with patchy fog, so the captain remained on the bridge keeping an eye on all activities. Change course 20 degrees. The paradigm shift experienced by the captain—and by us as we read this account— puts the situation in a totally different light.

We can see a reality that is superseded by his limited perception—a reality that is as critical for us to understand in our daily lives as it was for the captain in the fog. Principles are like lighthouses. They are natural laws that cannot be broken. As Cecil B. We can only break ourselves against the law. The degree to which our mental maps accurately describe the territory does not alter its existence. The reality of such principles or natural laws becomes obvious to anyone who thinks deeply and examines the cycles of social history.

These principles surface time and time again, and the degree to which people in a society recognize and live in harmony with them moves them toward either survival and stability or disintegration and destruction. There is not one principle taught in this book that is unique to any specific faith or religion, including my own. These principles are a part of most every major enduring religion, as well as enduring social philosophies and ethical systems. They are self- evident and can easily be validated by any individual. They seem to exist in all human beings, regardless of social conditioning and loyalty to them, even though they might be submerged or numbed by such conditions or disloyalty.

I am referring, for example, to the principle of fairness, out of which our whole concept of equity and justice is developed. Little children seem to have an innate sense of the idea of fairness even apart from opposite conditioning experiences. There are vast differences in how fairness is defined and achieved, but there is almost universal awareness of the idea. Other examples would include integrity and honesty. They create the foundation of trust which is essential to cooperation and long-term personal and interpersonal growth. Another principle is human dignity.

The basic concept in the United States Declaration of Independence bespeaks this value or principle. Another is quality or excellence. There is the principle of potential, the idea that we are embryonic and can grow and develop and release more and more potential, develop more and more talents. Highly related to potential is the principle of growth —the process of releasing potential and developing talents, with the accompanying need for principles such as patience, nurturance, and encouragement.

Principles are not practices. A practice is a specific activity or action. A practice that works in one circumstance will not necessarily work in another, as parents who have tried to raise a second child exactly like they did the first can readily attest. While practices are situationally specific, principles are deep, fundamental truths that have universal application. They apply to individuals, to marriages, to families, to private and public organizations of every kind.

When these truths are internalized into habits, they empower people to create a wide variety of practices to deal with different situations. Principles are not values. Principles are the territory. Values are maps. When we value correct principles, we have truth—a knowledge of things as they are. Principles are guidelines for human conduct that are proven to have enduring, permanent value.

Who Is Stephen Covey?

One way to quickly grasp the self-evident nature of principles is to simply consider the absurdity of attempting to live an effective life based on their opposites. I doubt that anyone would seriously consider unfairness, deceit, baseness, uselessness, mediocrity, or degeneration to be a solid foundation for lasting happiness and success. Although people may argue about how these principles are defined or manifested or achieved, there seems to be an innate consciousness and awareness that they exist.

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The more closely our maps or paradigms are aligned with these principles or natural laws, the more accurate and functional they will be. Correct maps will infinitely impact our personal and interpersonal effectiveness far more than any amount of effort expended on changing our attitudes and behaviors. Principles of Growth and Change The glitter of the Personality Ethic, the massive appeal, is that there is some quick and easy way to achieve quality of life—personal effectiveness and rich, deep relationships with other people—without going through the natural process of work and growth that makes it possible.

The Personality Ethic is illusory and deceptive. And trying to get high quality results with its techniques and quick fixes is just about as effective as trying to get to some place in Chicago using a map of Detroit. In the words of Erich Fromm, an astute observer of the roots and fruits of the Personality Ethic: Today we come across an individual who behaves like an automaton, who does not know or understand himself, and the only person that he knows is the person that he is supposed to be, whose meaningless chatter has replaced communicative speech, whose synthetic smile has replaced genuine laughter, and whose sense of dull despair has taken the place of genuine pain.

Two statements may be said concerning this individual. One is that he suffers from defects of spontaneity and individuality which may seem to be incurable. At the same time it may be said of him he does not differ essentially from the millions of the rest of us who walk upon this earth. In all of life, there are sequential stages of growth and development. A child learns to turn over, to sit up, to crawl, and then to walk and run.

Each step is important and each one takes time. No step can be skipped. This is true in all phases of life, in all areas of development, whether it be learning to play the piano or communicate effectively with a working associate. It is true with individuals, with marriages, with families, and with organizations. We know and accept this fact or principle of process in the area of physical things, but to understand it in emotional areas, in human relations, and even in the area of personal character is less common and more difficult.

And even if we understand it, to accept it and to live in harmony with it are even less common and more difficult. Consequently, we sometimes look for a shortcut, expecting to be able to skip some of these vital steps in order to save time and effort and still reap the desired result. But what happens when we attempt to shortcut a natural process in our growth and development? If you are only an average tennis player but decide to play at a higher level in order to make a better impression, what will result? Would positive thinking alone enable you to compete effectively against a professional?

What if you were to lead your friends to believe you could play the piano at concert hall level while your actual present skill was that of a beginner? The answers are obvious. It is simply impossible to violate, ignore, or shortcut this development process. It is contrary to nature, and attempting to seek such a shortcut only results in disappointment and frustration. On a ten-point scale, if I am at level two in any field, and desire to move to level five, I must first take the step toward level three.

You cannot pretend for long, for you will eventually be found out. Admission of ignorance is often the first step in our education. They were afraid to open up with their parents for fear of the consequences. I talked with the father and found that he was intellectually aware of what was happening. But while he admitted he had a temper problem, he refused to take responsibility for it and to honestly accept the fact that his emotional development level was low.

It was more than his pride could swallow to take the first step toward change. To relate effectively with a wife, a husband, children, friends, or working associates, we must learn to listen. And this requires emotional strength. Listening involves patience, openness, and the desire to understand—highly developed qualities of character. Our level of development is fairly obvious with tennis or piano playing, where it is impossible to pretend.

But it is not so obvious in the areas of character and emotional development. We can pretend. And for a while we can get by with it—at least in public. We might even deceive ourselves. Yet I believe that most of us know the truth of what we really are inside; and I think many of those we live with and work with do as well. But they ignore the low-trust climate produced by such manipulations. The first thing I noticed was several parents in the room witnessing this selfish display. I was embarrassed, and doubly so because at the time I was teaching university classes in human relations.

And I knew, or at least felt, the expectation of these parents. The atmosphere in the room was really charged—the children were crowding around my little daughter with their hands out, asking to play with the presents they had just given, and my daughter was adamantly refusing. The value of sharing is one of the most basic things we believe in. My second method was to use a little reasoning. The third method was bribery. Now I was becoming exasperated. For my fourth attempt, I resorted to fear and threat.

I merely took some of the toys and gave them to the other kids. In fact, unless I possess something, can I ever really give it? She needed me as her father to have a higher level of emotional maturity to give her that experience.

9 responses to “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey - Book Review”

But at that moment, I valued the opinion those parents had of me more than the growth and development of my child and our relationship together. I simply made an initial judgment that I was right; she should share, and she was wrong in not doing so. Perhaps I superimposed a higher-level expectation on her simply because on my own scale I was at a lower level. I was unable or unwilling to give patience or understanding, so I expected her to give things.

In an attempt to compensate for my deficiency, I borrowed strength from my position and authority and forced her to do what I wanted her to do. But borrowing strength builds weakness. It builds weakness in the borrower because it reinforces dependence on external factors to get things done. It builds weakness in the person forced to acquiesce, stunting the development of independent reasoning, growth, and internal discipline.

And finally, it builds weakness in the relationship. Fear replaces cooperation, and both people involved become more arbitrary and defensive. And what happens when the source of borrowed strength—be it superior size or physical strength, position, authority, credentials, status symbols, appearance, or past achievements—changes or is no longer there?

Had I been more mature, I could have relied on my own intrinsic strength—my understanding of sharing and of growth and my capacity to love and nurture—and allowed my daughter to make a free choice as to whether she wanted to share or not to share. Perhaps after attempting to reason with her, I could have turned the attention of the children to an interesting game, taking all that emotional pressure off my child. My experience has been that there are times to teach and times not to teach.

When relationships are strained and the air charged with emotion, an attempt to teach is often perceived as a form of judgment and rejection. But to take the child alone, quietly, when the relationship is good and to discuss the teaching or the value seems to have much greater impact.

It may have been that the emotional maturity to do that was beyond my level of patience and internal control at the time. Perhaps a sense of possessing needs to come before a sense of genuine sharing. Many people who give mechanically or refuse to give and share in their marriages and families may never have experienced what it means to possess themselves, their own sense of identity and self-worth.

Really helping our children grow may involve being patient enough to allow them the sense of possession as well as being wise enough to teach them the value of giving and providing the example ourselves. The Way We See The Problem Is the Problem People are intrigued when they see good things happening in the lives of individuals, families, and organizations that are based on solid principles. They admire such personal strength and maturity, such family unity and teamwork, such adaptive synergistic organizational culture.

And their immediate request is very revealing of their basic paradigm. Teach me the techniques. They may eliminate some of the cosmetic or acute problems through social aspirin and Band-Aids. But the underlying chronic condition remains, and eventually new acute symptoms will appear. The more people are into quick fix and focus on the acute problems and pain, the more that very approach contributes to the underlying chronic condition.

The way we see the problem is the problem. Look again at some of the concerns that introduced this chapter, and at the impact of Personality Ethic thinking. The Personality Ethic tells me I could take some kind of dramatic action—shake things up, make heads roll—that would make my employees shape up and appreciate what they have. Or that I could find some motivational training program that would get them committed. Or even that I could hire new people that would do a better job. But is it possible that under that apparently disloyal behavior, these employees question whether I really act in their best interest?

Is there some truth to that? Deep inside, is that really the way I see them? Is there a chance the way I look at the people who work for me is part of the problem? The Personality Ethic tells me there must be something out there—some new planner or seminar that will help me handle all these pressures in a more efficient way. But is there a chance that efficiency is not the answer?

Is getting more things done in less time going to make a difference—or will it just increase the pace at which I react to the people and circumstances that seem to control my life? Could there be something I need to see in a deeper, more fundamental way—some paradigm within myself that affects the way I see my time, my life, and my own nature? The Personality Ethic tells me there must be some new book or some seminar where people get all their feelings out that would help my wife understand me better.

Living Well Through the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Part Three)

Do I have some basic paradigm about my spouse, about marriage, about what love really is, that is feeding the problem? Can you see how fundamentally the paradigms of the Personality Ethic affect the very way we see our problems as well as the way we attempt to solve them? Whether people see it or not, many are becoming disillusioned with the empty promises of the Personality Ethic. They want substance; they want process. They want more than aspirin and Band-Aids.

They want to solve the chronic underlying problems and focus on the principles that bring long-term results. We need a new level, a deeper level of thinking—a paradigm based on the principles that accurately describe the territory of effective human being and interacting—to solve these deep concerns. It says if you want to have a happy marriage, be the kind of person who generates positive energy and sidesteps negative energy rather than empowering it. If you want to have a more pleasant, cooperative teenager, be a more understanding, empathic, consistent, loving parent.

If you want to have more freedom, more latitude in your job, be a more responsible, a more helpful, a more contributing employee. If you want to be trusted, be trustworthy. If you want the secondary greatness of recognized talent, focus first on primary greatness of character. The inside-out approach says that private victories precede public victories, that making and keeping promises to ourselves precedes making and keeping promises to others.

It says it is futile to put personality ahead of character, to try to improve relationships with others before improving ourselves. Inside-out is a process—a continuing process of renewal based on the natural laws that govern human growth and progress. I have had the opportunity to work with many people—wonderful people, talented people, people who deeply want to achieve happiness and success, people who are searching, people who are hurting. And in all of my experience, I have never seen lasting solutions to problems, lasting happiness and success, that came from the outside in.

What I have seen result from the outside-in paradigm is unhappy people who feel victimized and immobilized, who focus on the weaknesses of other people and the circumstances they feel are responsible for their own stagnant situation. Inside-out is a dramatic paradigm shift for most people, largely because of the powerful impact of conditioning and the current social paradigm of the Personality Ethic.

But from my own experience—both personal and in working with thousands of other people—and from careful examination of successful individuals and societies throughout history, I am persuaded that many of the principles embodied in the Seven Habits are already deep within us, in our conscience and our common sense. As we sincerely seek to understand and integrate these principles into our lives, I am convinced we will discover and rediscover the truth of T.

W We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. Aristotle Our character, basically, is a composite of our habits. Habits are powerful factors in our lives. Because they are consistent, often unconscious patterns, they constantly, daily, express our character and produce our effectiveness We weave a strand of it every day and soon it cannot be broken. I know they can be broken. Habits can be learned and unlearned. It involves a process and a tremendous commitment. Those of us who watched the lunar voyage of Apollo 11 were transfixed as we saw the first men walk on the moon and return to earth.

But to get there, those astronauts literally had to break out of the tremendous gravity pull of the earth. More energy was spent in the first few minutes of lift-off, in the first few miles of travel, than was used over the next several days to travel half a million miles. Habits, too, have tremendous gravity pull—more than most people realize or would admit. Breaking deeply imbedded habitual tendencies such as procrastination, impatience, criticalness, or selfishness that violate basic principles of human effectiveness involves more than a little willpower and a few minor changes in our lives.

Like any natural force, gravity pull can work with us or against us. The gravity pull of some of our habits may currently be keeping us from going where we want to go. We all have busy lifestyles; therefore it's no surprise we have to insert Sharpen The Saw into our Time Management best practices and make it part of our Quadrant II priorities Habit 3. Our future success and ongoing reputation depends on us taking action. I've seen students have great success with this concept.

Stephen says, "It means exercising all four dimensions of our nature, regularly and consistently in a wise and balanced way. To do this we have to be proactive. Proactive means we have to plan for it -- to put it in our schedule and protect the time Quadrant II , for all 4 of the above mentioned dimensions. Self improvement takes time -- just like working out and getting fit.

Stephen sees self-improvement as a never-ending upward spiral of 'Learn, Commit, Do'. Personally I see it as a never-ending spiral of 'Commit, Learn, Do. When you begin working out, a trainer will help you receive maximum benefit and minimize injury. In the same vein, a personal coach will help guide your personal change and keep you on track. I've recently found a pod cast series called 'On Being' with Krista Tippett and I am enjoying how she explores the complications and beauty of human life.

Krista is helping me sharpen my spiritual saw. Stephen R. If that works for you then terrific. Over time remembering to Sharpen Your Saw will get easier to plan and do. Whatever you choose will become a feeder into a life of quality -- the glass half full -- abundance of your life.